Written by U SPORTS
Photo by Valerie Wutti
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – After scoring the first nine points of the game, the Carleton Ravens led wire-to-wire in a decisive 83-49 victory over the defending national champion Calgary Dinos in the gold medal game of the 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8.
“Everyone stepped up – it feels great to be back here,” said Carleton forward Eddie Ekiyor, who garnered the Jack Donohue Memorial Trophy as Final 8 Most Valuable Player.
It is the record 14th national championship and W.P. McGee Trophy for the storied program.
“We played well against a really good team,” said Carleton head coach Dave Smart.
The Ravens jumped to a 9-0 edge in the opening two minutes, keyed by offensive rebounding, which led to baskets from Munis Tutu and Ekiyor, a First Team All-Canadian, and five consecutive points, including a three-pointer, from Yasiin Joseph.
First Team All-Canadian Mambi Diawara put the Dinos on the board with a pair of free throws.
After consecutive hoops from Tutu, the Ravens led 13-2 midway through the first quarter.
Carleton continued its smothering defence and work on the offensive glass, with Tutu giving his team a 17-3 lead on a pair of foul shots, with just more than three minutes remaining.
The Dinos ended the first quarter on a 10-3 burst, ignited by consecutive three-pointers from Lucas Mannes and David Kapinga. Brett Layton added an interior hoop, tipping in his own put back in while surrounded by defenders.
The Ravens held the Dinos to 16.7 per cent shooting from the field and took a 20-13 advantage after the first quarter.
“I thought we defended incredibly well, and we fought hard the entire game,” said Smart.
He noted his Ravens were more prepared, mentally, compared to their semifinal victory over the Dalhousie Tigers.
“We were tight last night – we had no confidence, so we were much better in this game,” added Smart.
Sparked by two three-pointers from Isiah Osborne in the first three minutes of the second quarter, Carleton led 29-18.
After a pair of graceful lay-ups from Tutu, one on the fast break, the Ravens took their largest lead – 35-18 – midway through the stanza.
The Ravens, on another three-pointer from Joseph, stretched their edge to 38-21.
After an exclamation point from Mitch Wood, on a buzzer-beating lay-up – off a nifty feed from Ekiyor – the Ravens led 44-23 at halftime.
In an electrifying opening 20 minutes of play, Tutu collected 16 points, four rebounds, four steals, two blocked shots and an assist.
Diawara sank five points at the start of the third quarter to trim the Ravens’ lead to 44-28.
Three minutes into the second half, Joseph scored the first Carleton points.
Midway through the quarter, after a sweeping left-handed lay-in by Ekiyor, the Ravens led 48-30.
The Carleton advantage ballooned to 26, after a dazzling baseline reverse lay-up from Tutu.
After three quarters, the Ravens led 64-36.
Osborne scored another three-pointer and Ekiyor followed with an emphatic right-handed dunk, giving Carleton a 77-40 advantage midway through the fourth quarter.
The Ravens held the Dinos to 25 per cent shooting from the field and recorded a 44-37 edge in rebounding.
“We locked in defensively and we were focused,” said Ekiyor.
Joseph led the Ravens with 20 points, while Tutu added 18. Ekiyor finished with a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds, while Osborne chipped in 15 points and six rebounds off the bench.
“He is an unsung hero,” Smart said of Osborne, noting the Ravens are hard to defend when his sophomore guard is contributing offensively.
He agreed one of the keys to the Ravens’ success this season, including in the championship game, has been a balanced attack.
“We need to spread it around – we don’t have one player who dominates,” said Smart, noting there are four or five players who are capable of scoring 20 points in a game.
For the Dinos, Layton fashioned a double-double – 11 points and 15 rebounds – while Diawara and Schlueter also hit for double figures, with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“Carleton’s overall effort – we couldn’t match it today,” said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren.
He noted, in the first quarter, they surrendered 21 points, directly from “controllable” plays, such as turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds.
“They did not let up and they are a wonderful club,” he added of the Ravens.
Despite not repeating as national champions, Vanhooren agreed his team had another strong season.
“I am super proud of our players and staff – they had a great year,” he said
Joining Ekiyor as tournament all-stars selections were Myles Charvis (Ryerson), Diawara, Layton and Tutu.
Players of the Game
Carleton: Eddie Ekiyor
Calgary: Mambi Diawara
Tournament MVP (Jack Donohue Trophy): Eddie Ekiyor, Carleton
Myles Charvis, Ryerson
Mambi Diawara, Calgary
Eddie Ekiyor, Carleton
Brett Layton, Calgary
Munis Tutu, Carleton